“Confidence is contagious” with Penny Bauder & Carrie J DePeter

Confidence is contagious. Let your team know you are behind them and use mistakes as a chance to teach. You may win as a team or fail as a team, but either outcome always teaches the team a valuable lesson. As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, […]

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Confidence is contagious. Let your team know you are behind them and use mistakes as a chance to teach. You may win as a team or fail as a team, but either outcome always teaches the team a valuable lesson.

As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie J DePeter, the Vice President of Business Development at Inspired Technology and Communications. Carrie joined Inspired with 20 years of experience in Information Systems and best of breed software solutions. Prior to Inspired, Carrie spent 17 years at ConRes. She was responsible for the onboarding of 10 manufacturing lines and was integral part of the 1999 SAP implementation team. At Inspired, Carrie is responsible for the direction and growth of the hardware and software cloud division as well as the onboarding of the best of breed software solutions for clients. Carrie was raised in Sudbury, MA. She is also recognized as the first three-sport athlete at Babson College where she doubled majored in Information Systems and Business Management.

Thank you so much for doing this with us, Carrie! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was 1997 and I was sitting next to a close friend in a Macro Economics class at Babson College. My classmate was explaining to me that the topic our professor was discussing was all going to change. As we left class, I questioned what he was referring to and he explained that in his opinion, information systems and the internet were going to change how companies formed and grew. He talked about how IT was one of the most difficult skill sets to find and if I learned IT, my first job offers would offer salaries double of what my marketing and finance counterparts would be offered. That simple, I was in. A few hours later my mind was 100% made up. I was changing my major from Entrepreneurial Studies and Finance to the Management of Information Systems.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me, happened on my first day of work! I was replacing the water on a Poland Spring water cooler, when an employee came up behind me and asked that I change them out more frequently because they are always empty (he assumed I worked for Poland Springs) I replied “sure if I see it empty, I will certainly change it”. I will say a day later when being introduced to the company, as the new VP of Business Development, that employee seemed mildly embarrassed for their mistaken identity.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I’ve ever made was thinking a revolving door could fit multiple people. While I was with a group of clients, I closely followed a client into the same chamber and bumped into his back about 5 times before the door stopped turning, making for the most uncomfortable 30–60 seconds.

What I learned from it is that people are people, we all make little mistakes. I was so embarrassed and when we finally got out, everyone was laughing and telling stories of silly embarrassing things that happened to them. Maybe it was human nature to want to minimize my embarrassment by quickly telling all their embarrassing stories because they could tell I was young, but it helped me to see that being honest and being able to relate to a client is a huge asset in business development.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My company stands out because 7 years ago before I even worked here, I hired Inspired to wire my house, put in a network and install 4 TV’s. I arrived home that day and was very upset because I didn’t think the work was complete.

As I called Inspired, the president took my call (no wait at all) he quickly pulled up my account and went through all the notes the techs had uploaded. He informed me that all the work was complete, and the pictures of the work and details would be sent out by the end of day. I was shocked. I mentioned I saw no holes where the network was to be wired and he informed me that access panels were put in the closest closet to where they were working.

As I went and opened the closets, I noticed they all had neat access panels and the reason I thought the TV’s were just mounted is I didn’t realize they put boxes and drilled all the cabling behind the walls…and vacuumed and cleaned! I was in shock. The work was like nothing I had ever seen before. As the president was going through what was done, the technicians were at my front door. Apparently Inspired has a “no eating on site” policy, so the techs had taken a 20-minute break to eat in their van and were coming back to review the set up with me (the customer).

At this point, I ended the call with the president and sent a very nice email apologizing. I made a mental note that day, “these guys know how to run a successful business.” It was clean, impeccable work accompanied with amazing attention to detail and transfer of knowledge documentation at the end. They did not leave until I knew how to work every facet of my network! I spent the next 4 years singing their praises and highly recommending them to anyone who asked.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We have amazing projects this year and the two largest ones will extend the lives of children, as their FDA approved drugs treat some of the most severe and rarest diseases.

Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?

This could have been a relevant question 8–10 years ago; women are everywhere at every C-level position. If you are looking in your rear-view mirror for a woman, look up because she just passed you. #girlpower #womendoitbetter

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?

I think just being able to run an entire project end to end. Somewhere along the way a rumor got some traction that women couldn’t make decisions. I would suggest women address these early and often, so they don’t become a concern.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?

Although I think the question is dated, just like any industry, jealousy and competition are always prevalent. I think male counterparts tend to discredit woman with a tale that is old as time, “she isn’t as qualified and somehow got where she is by flirting or using unsavory methods to get ahead,” which is just untrue. Years in the industry and an impeccable reputation speak for themselves, so I tend to ignore all hearsay until I know otherwise.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Leadership lessons are like being a student teacher for the day. You need to come in strong with your message and make it known that you know how things are going to work. Any half said or unclear message can make it more difficult to succeed. As always, you cannot make everyone happy, but if you set proper expectations early and praise your team for work done well, you will have your staff liking and respecting you and with those two things, you can soar.
  2. As I mentioned earlier in my revolving door story — I learned a couple things from that experience, the first one being people are people and we all make mistakes — whether it was not knowing only one person fits in a chamber in a revolving door, or forgetting an important zero on a proposal. A big part of being a good leader is all about how you handle the unpleasant stuff and to make sure the team learns from it.
  3. The second one from that experience is how being able to relate to a client can be a huge asset. Many of my long-term client relationships were solidified by bonding over shared passions.
  4. Diverse hiring. I’ve learned that I do not need to hire someone that is just like me. My best hires have been people that are different from me — different work backgrounds, different personalities — their strengthens have been the yin to my yang.
  5. The power of listening. When I was starting out, I attended meetings with senior reps and their prospects. Over time I noticed two different styles being used — one style based on listening to the prospect pain points, which would trigger us in what to talk about and offer solutions catered to them. This also helped build a rapport which made the prospect feel comfortable and often led to closing the deal. The second style was something I like to call “the bulldog” approach. The senior rep talking the whole time telling the prospect “what” they need and overwhelming them with everything we had to offer. The meetings were tense and uncomfortable — not exactly a recipe for success.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Confidence is contagious. Let your team know you are behind them and use mistakes as a chance to teach. You may win as a team or fail as a team, but either outcome always teaches the team a valuable lesson.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Communication, communication, communication!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful to my parents for demanding work ethic at a very early age. I am most grateful to my two uber successful sisters for keeping the sibling rivalry bar so high that I couldn’t slow down!

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Success have given me the means to be able to help out multiple charitable causes. I have always been generous to a fault, even when money was scarce, but my success has given me the platform and the means to give back to these charities and really see what my gifts of time and money have done for them.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Treat people as you would want to be treated. Your status or position is no substitute for the tone you use to deliver your message. Encouragement delivered the right way can get you better results than demeaning yelling will.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

It wasn’t an easy road to navigate as one of 3 women in my Information Systems major and in 1998 when I started at my first internship and then first job, my opinions were easily dismissed because I was a woman. It was tough to not be respected and it hurt because I am a very competitive person that works hard. I would work longer and harder than any of my peers to prove myself and at times it was overwhelming to say the least, it didn’t kill me and I’m so much stronger because of it.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Erin Brockovich — She helped people and held big companies accountable for awful practices and horrendous outcomes. She fights for what is right, and I really love that!

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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